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Electromagnetic spectrum

  1. Nov 10, 2011 #1
    how can microwaves heat food?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2011 #2
    To my knowledge, microwaves excite polar molecules (namely water). They basically absorb the microwaves and this energy translates into motion. This motion then translates into friction on a molecular level. I would recommend wikipedia for a more thorough answer.

    EDIT:
    A microwave oven works by passing non-ionizing microwave radiation, usually at a frequency of 2.45 gigahertz (GHz)—a wavelength of 122 millimetres (4.80 in)—through the food. Microwave radiation is between common radio and infrared frequencies. Water, fat, and other substances in the food absorb energy from the microwaves in a process called dielectric heating. Many molecules (such as those of water) are electric dipoles, meaning that they have a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, and therefore rotate as they try to align themselves with the alternating electric field of the microwaves. Rotating molecules hit other molecules and put them into motion, thus dispersing energy. This energy, when dispersed as molecular vibration in solids and liquids (i.e., as both potential energy and kinetic energy of atoms), is heat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
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